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  • Writer's pictureSarah Ritchie

The secrets to unlocking a great workplace culture 3

I often get asked, “what makes your culture at Journey Digital so good?”. I feel like I am obliged to give a quick, concise answer, as though having a great company culture is easy to explain and achieve – but it isn’t.

A great company culture is realised over time and made up of 1001 little and massive things, which all have to somehow – magically – work together.

Culture can be strategised, hired for, nurtured and even policed, but ultimately, the fate of a company’s culture rests in the hands of each employee. All you can do (if you work in a Human Resources role) is work hard to create the right environment where a great culture can flourish.

Over a series of three blog articles, I will attempt to distil some of the goodness that makes up the company culture at Journey Digital (Auckland, London), where I feel proud to lead the People & Culture team.

Secret #2: Every decision has a consequence

To say that “every decision has a consequence” sounds pretty simple, right? When it comes to human resources and decision-making involving people, the decisions and their consequences are usually anything but simple. You’ll soon discover that any decision you make rarely makes 100% of people happy 100% of the time!

Our Journey People & Culture team knows that building and protecting our culture depends on carefully considering decisions before taking action. We look at situations from as many angles as possible and ask ourselves various questions. Who will be affected by this decision? What might perceptions be? Does the decision carry any legal consequence? What comms do we need to do for the team? Who might be negatively affected, and how would we handle that?

Journey prides itself on being an ideas company, so Journey team members are encouraged to float suggestions and solutions – some of which will inevitably affect the wider team. Some of the suggestions are well thought-through; however, many of the suggestions sound feasible on the surface but will only look at a situation from one side and not consider the needs of the whole team. That’s normal in team life, so it’s People & Culture’s job to consider suggestions, situations, issues, and resolutions from all sides. We have to think about what the consequences might be – both negative and positive – and then make a call. Some calls are much more challenging to make than others, and it’s important to have a strong ‘why’ (rationale) behind all of your decisions.

Decisions made (large and small) within a business heavily influence a company’s culture. Therefore anyone working in People & Culture must develop two essential skills: critical thinking and empathy. Critical thinking gives you a framework for sound decision-making (using your logical brain), and empathy helps you to walk a few thousand miles in the shoes of others (using your heart).

If you make decisions only with your head, you could come across as clinical and uncaring. If you make decisions only with your heart, you may not consider broader implications or business impact. When your head and heart work in unison, you exponentially increase your chance of making the right decisions for your company, protecting the culture you work so hard to build.

For all decisions, it’s up to you to dig deeper, pause to consider, and do what’s best for your team. Always ask yourself if you are making the easy decision…or the right decision…and console yourself that the right decision is seldom quick or easy!

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